Up next, Buffalo Trace in Lee's Town, Frankfort KY. I didn't realize but Buffalo Trace has only been named that since 1999 after being purchased by the Sazerac Company in 1992. Both Peychaud's and Reagan's bitters are made on-site today. The distillery has a long history as one of the oldest distilleries in the state, dating from the early 1800's, and a long roster of past owners whose names now grace many of the bottles; Blanton, E.H. Taylor, George T. Stagg, & Elmer T. Lee.
The distillery, back then it was Schenley, was also one of only six allowed to continue during prohibition, making "prescription" whiskey. We had the good fortune of having Bob as our guide, who is also a state folklorist, as he had some really interesting information about the history of the company.
We chose the Trace Tour, a complimentary tour that starts every hour on the hour. Bob walked us past a few of the historic buildings as he shared information, we watched a short and interesting film, and then we were guided into one of the warehouses. This particular warehouse was aging W.L. Weller, which we learned can end up as the illustrious Pappy Van Winkle if the master distiller determines it to be special enough.
From there we made our way to Blanton's Bottling Hall. The day we visited they were bottling E.H. Taylor and Blanton's, on two separate belts, all completely by hand. It was really fantastic to watch, and everyone on the crew was super friendly and happy to answer questions and chat. Every single bottle is filled, sealed, labeled, and packaged entirely by hand.
We finished up with a tasting and then spent a bit more time wandering the grounds on our own, they are really beautiful.
On the way home we stopped in at Liquor Barn, there are a few but we went to the one in Hamburg Pavillion. Now this retail emporium isn't actually on the Bourbon Trail, but it should be!
We had a great tasting of two of the Willett bourbons I'd wanted to sample, as well as these two rare Orphan Barrel bourbons. These are from defunct distilleries and are extremely limited in quantity so it was a good chance to try them. We were also told they've got their hands on a couple of bottles of Pappy which should be released in the next few weeks.
We fueled up for our last day of tasting by having ginormous and delicious Hot Brown's at Ramsey's Diner. A Hot Brown brunch is definitely the way to go!
Then we made our Woodford Reserve in Versailles, KY (pronounced completely different than you would in France!). Again the tours start on the hour every hour, but even on a rainy Tuesday afternoon we had to wait a full hour for the next available opening. Luckily they have a nice gift shop, a little cafe, and a comfortable lounge area complete with pretty fireplace.
We then entered the distillation room where three absolutely gorgeous copper pot stills hold center stage.
Woodford has a unique barrel track which takes the barrels from the filling room and rolls them along to the warehouse. We followed their path to warehouse C, originally built back in 1890.
bourbon ball before heading out to our last stop of the day.
With a plane to catch in just over 2 hours we had no time for a tour but we hit the gift shop at Four Roses to peruse what they might only be selling at the distillery.
But for this time I'd say that hitting six distilleries over three days was a mighty fine effort! Until next time Kentucky!
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